Uvalde police officer passed on chance to shoot gunman before he entered the school, new report finds

Uvalde shooting memorial
Uvalde shooting memorial Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

A rifle-armed police officer in Uvalde, Texas, had a chance to shoot an 18-year-old gunman before he entered Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers on May 24, but when the officer asked a supervisor for permission to open fire, the supervisor "either did not hear or responded too late," according to a report released Wednesday. The unidentified officer was within range, 148 yards from the gunman, but he reportedly told investigators he was worried his shot would miss, pass through a wall, and injure a student.

"A reasonable officer would conclude in this case, based upon the totality of the circumstances, that use of deadly force was warranted," the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University wrote in the 26-page report. But "ultimately, the decision to use deadly force always lies with the officer who will use the force. If the officer was not confident that he could both hit his target and of his backdrop if he missed, he should not have fired."

The missed opportunity to stop the shooter before his rampage was the most significant new detail in the report on law enforcement's botched response to the school shooting. The report also found that an Uvalde school district officer missed seeing the gunman when he was still in the school parking lot because he drove through "at a high rate of speed."

Some of the victims "could have been saved" if they had received medical attention sooner, the report suggested. The officers who waited outside the unlocked classroom for more than an hour had "weapons (including rifles), body armor (which may or may not have been rated to stop rifle rounds), training, and backup. The victims in the classrooms had none of these things."

The passive response to the shool shooting was followed by stonewalling from local and state officials. A state House committee investigating the shooting said Wednesday that Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco has refused to meet with them, so they intend to compel his cooperation.

And Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin asked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday to have the Texas Department of Emergency Management take over managing a state victims' fund, saying they have received numerous complaints about District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee's oversight, "including the failure to timely deliver victim's compensation resources to those in need."

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